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Showing posts from 2009

¡Hasta luego!

On our way back to Alajuela, the class stopped by a local artisan shop to purchase last-minute souvenirs. We had a final group dinner at a city café and reflected back on three weeks worth of grand adventures. After two flat tire incidents, numerous miles of hiking, and a million insect bites, the UW Honors Study Abroad Program reached its end. Regardless of the tough living conditions, everyone always put on a great attitude and a chipper disposition. ;-)

In retrospect I found the expedition to be very organized, enlightening, humbling, challenging, and intrinsically rewarding. Even as a non-biology major, I felt that everything was taught in an appropriate scope for students of diverse interests. The class reflections, intense hikes, and structured activities truly left me with a greater appreciation and understanding of the environment at large. =D

Adrenaline junkies

In our final day at Monteverde, students were given the option to explore the rainforest canopy by either walking through designated bridges or racing through a zip line. I chose to partake in the zip line (one more item to check off my list of things to do before I die), and had to sign a liability contract to participate. After my fellow peers and I were harnessed, we immediately zipped through the wire courses, feeling the wind violently brushing against our cheeks! XD

We also had the opportunity to join in on the “Tarzan Swing.” It was by far more mentally nerve-racking than the zip lines because I had to fall straight down (I HATE the “free fall / stomach-in-my-throat” feeling!) prior to swinging on the harnessed vine. I can still remember yelling “OHHH MYYY GODDD!!!” at the top of my lungs upon the immediate, plunging descent! Indeed, the adrenaline-seeking activities (surprisingly vomit-free) were a great way to end our stay at Monteverde. =D

Cloud forests and coffee

After three days of Playo Palo Seco, it was time for another change of pace. The next group destination was slated for Monteverde, a city engulfed in tourism. Aside from the lavish night life—eating at fancy dinner restaurants visiting local bars—the class was able to explore much of the outdoors through structured mountain hikes that the pioneering Quakers established. On one of our class treks, we ascended into the national “cloud forest” (1440 meters above sea level), and as the name implied, each step drew us closer into the THICK mist. We eventually reached the Continental Divide, a vantage point for both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. And just for fun, students spat into both sides of the country… =P

The next day, our class was given a tour of a local coffee plantation. As a major product of Costa Rica, coffee sales played a vital role in the nation’s economy. We were taken through the whole process of growing organic shade-grown coffee and got to chew on the fleshy fruit of the…

Save the turtles!

One of my fondest memories throughout the whole program was the night that was spent with the endangered sea turtles at Puerto Quepos. After the class was debriefed by the ongoing turtle poaching crisis, we headed out to the beach to help local volunteers with their nocturnal watch and marine research. At night, it was important to ONLY use infrared flashlights because regular white light would disorient the hatchlings. =S

The class was able to witness the entire egg-laying process live! The female turtles would make their way from the ocean to a soft spot in the beach and start digging out sand with their hind flippers. After creating a foot-long hole, she would lay over 100+ eggs and cover her nest with sand. Lastly, she would pat the whole area smoothly with her body (as to not leave a trace) and crawl back into the ocean. Once the turtle left, the class extracted the eggs and reburied them in a nearby turtle nursery reserve (under metallic nets to ward off natural predators). I enj…

To the beach!

After spending nine days in rural Mastatal, we then packed our belongings and traveled to Playa Palo Seco. We checked into the hotel, and were very appreciative of the accommodations: air conditioning, backyard pool, indoor toilettes, laundry machines, and secondary napping beds. The food the hotel served was amazing (though very American) and meals were always served with fruit smoothies. We also had the neighboring beach—pristine with palm trees, drift wood, and white sand—ALL to ourselves! =D

The hotels were also close to an artificial mangrove habitat (home to the family of plants of the genus Rhizophora) and we were able to embark on a boat tour to explore the marine wildlife. Along the way, we encountered many unique creatures like pit vipers, white-faced monkeys, silky anteaters, green herons, etc. This venture demonstrated that the biodiversity of Costa Rica was not ubiquitous and uniform throughout; changes in flora/fauna species fluctuate tremendously in varying regions of Co…

Reforestation projects

Tom and Brenda were able to arrange our class to work with the youth of the local elementary school to restore a garden together. It took a TON of manpower from both parties to shovel and rake out weeds. After everything was cleared out and the top soil was overturned, we started to create rows of beds for the potential plants to be grown. I helped plant solid vegetation around the edges of the garden as a measure against erosion. The young children, as small as could be, were always eager to offer assistance and ultimately became a great source of comedic relief. =P

Because many of the rare plants in Costa Rican rainforests were endangered, Tiburón built a “vivero” (Spanish for nursery) to plant tree saplings on his property in Mastatal, Costa Rica. As concerned environmentalists, we all pitched in and helped him with his project during our weekend’s free time. We started by mixing human fertilizer (taken from the compost toilettes…), top soil, dirt, and sawdust to create a nutrient-r…

The chocolate factory

One of our afternoons in Mastatal was scheduled for a tour of the local chocolate factory. The half-hour walk to “Iguana Chocolate” was treacherous; we all had to walk through a frenzied rain storm! It was so rainy/windy that umbrellas were inverted; rain jackets were as ineffective as walking through a waterfall; verbal communication was futile due to the sheer loudness; and backpacks with digital cameras, etc. were soaked! The weather truly showed NO MERCY to us foreign travelers. ={

The chocolate factory served as a shelter from the hammering precipitation. The whole class was able to sample a variety of chocolate products: brownies, beverages, candy, etc. From the English tour guide, we learned that the chocolate was harvested naturally from the area’s cacao beans. We even participated in a live cacao bean roasting demo and observed the fermentation of the crop. It was no surprise that the final product tasted so much better than American gimmicks. ;-)

Cultural home stays

To truly be immersed in the “Tico” (a colloquial term for a native of Costa Rica) lifestyle, students were grouped into pairs to spend a couple of nights at a local family’s house. I was paired with Chris, and we were assigned to temporary live with 46-year-old Lucmilda (a reserved woman and single mother) and her 6-year-old daughter Priscilla (who often broke the ice with her playful antics). I did the majority of translating at my home stay with my background in Spanish (thanks to the classes I took at Yakima Valley Community College). =P

It was so interesting to learn how the average family spent a typical night at home. The rice/bean/meat dinners were traditional, but full of flavor. Lucmilda and Priscilla also tended to the needs of three baby birds by feeding them bananas through a syringe. They also love watching their “telenovelas” (soap operas); Chris and I found the thrilling plots of “Tormenta en el Paraíso” and “Casi Ángeles” to be VERY entertaining! We grew attached with t…

Educational death hikes

With a couple of days into the program, everyone was getting more accustomed to the climate and began getting to know each other on a personal level. Tom, also known as Tiburón (Spanish for “shark”), was one of our instructors on the program who coordinated many outdoor activities with outlandish enthusiasm. The students were also under the supervision of Brenda, a professor who focused on the academic and logistic aspects of the program. During our first couple days at Mastatal, we all went through an introductory orientation of the community to cover concerns relating to safety and environmental awareness. The rural area was home to venomous snakes, torrential downpours, etc. But even those perils won’t deter the fervent curiosity of us honor students! =]

It was common to go on morning nature hikes, even in the scorching sunlight—I had to go through bottles of sunscreen for protection! On these forest hikes, Tom would point out facts on the exotic flora and fauna we’d encounter. The …

¡Hola, Costa Rica!

After a flurry of airline transfers from Yakima to Seattle, to Los Angeles, to Houston, I finally arrived in San José, Costa Rica. From an aerial view flying into the country, it was evident that a lot of lush vegetation has been unperturbed by urbanism. After taking a taxi (only a $4 fare) to Alajuela, I met up with a couple of the students in the UW Honors Program (Course Title: “Environmental Sustainability and Natural History”) at the Los Volcanes Hotel. We explored the town’s churches and central parks and ended the night with a group dinner (with the Miss Universe Pageant playing in the background) at a local restaurant. XD

We assembled with the entire group the next day and headed to Mastatal, a rural community located high in the mountain of Costa Rica, where the students would spend the bulk of their academic research. Man was I in for a RUDE awakening! In Mastatal, insect bites from ants and mosquitoes reigned supreme, there was limited privacy in the ranch “dorms,” everyone …

Au revoir, Paris

Our Tuesday afternoon took place at an authentic French restaurant that specialized in mussel cuisine. The service was timely and the dinner was full of hearty flavor. We then finished our souvenir shopping and ate rich gelato via the inexpensive shops along the same street. We then took a final stroll as a group along the evening sidewalks of Paris; we even visited the chapel of Saint Germain before we called it a night.

The next day was focused primarily on packing our belongings to head to the airport. Come lunch time, we had to exhaust all of the money on our meal card accounts (P-Jo had so much credit that she purchased bottles after bottles of wine). Once I got to the airport, I transferred to Amsterdam where I had spent the night thanks to a 12-hour layover. And it did not really help with an annoying automated female voice yelling “MIND YOUR STEP” every ten seconds on the nearby speaker! After five airplane movies and two airplane meals, I eventually made it back to Seattle, a…

After hours: I’m on a boat!

Prior to Monday morning, much of my free time was spent on preparing for the final exam. Even though it was only going to be worth ten percent of my final grade, I made certain that I was caught up on lecture notes, reading materials, and listening guides. After everything was said and done, I let out a sigh of relief after the final class and examination was over, and I am confident in my results. In retrospect, I am very satisfied with my progression of musical knowledge within just four week’s time. =]With finals out of the way, everyone was in a great mood for the evening cruise along the Seine River. As soon as I got onboard the boat, I ascended to the top deck to get a better view of the city. Throughout the tour, the multi-lingual guide sputtered historical facts about nearby monuments (i.e. romantic bridges, dancing riverbanks, etc.). We were even fortunate enough to see a distant light show from the Eiffel Tower. After the boat ride, we saw random acrobatic skaters perform th…

Tour de France 2009

Sunday afternoon was spent at Champs-Élysées (Arc de Triomphe) for the final leg of the Tour de France! Christina, Sarah, Mercedes and I left the Fiap around 2 pm, but Champs-Élysées was crammed SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER with tourists. A lot of sponsored merchandise (i.e. plastic flags, giant hands, etc.) were given away for free. We managed to find seating outside of a nearby café and had frozen dessert to pass away the time. ^_^The display started with an entertaining parade of oversized inflatable balloons that parodied the international bikers. Soon enough, the horns/honks/sirens of the French motorcycles signaled the arrival of the cyclists. The area in general was ridiculous due to the intense heat waves emitted by the sun, the constant aerial onslaught of avian feces, and the smelly body odor exuded from the filthy tourist crowd closest to the barricades. We were practically forced to keep our hands up in the air and tiptoe NONSTOP for twenty minute intervals at a time to even get a…

Night at the Louvre Museum

As do all good things, my month in Paris eventually dwindled down its last couple of days. And with project deadlines drawing near, I spent a good number of evenings in my room buckled down to my desk, studying. Luckily, it all paid off! Despite minor laptop malfunctions, my oral presentation regarding the evolution of music technology went seamlessly well. =DOur last Friday evening was spent together at the Louvre Museum, the most visited museum in the world. Because I knew that I would not have enough time to look at 20,000+ in one visit, I briskly walked through the eight curatorial departments to have a glance at their respective themes: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings. However, I did manage to make time to admire the top three pieces of art I sought to see while I was there: (3) Winged Victory of Samothrace, (2) Venus de Milo, and (1) Mona Lisa. Each…

Science and religion

On a sweaty Tuesday afternoon, I went on a LONG train ride to the “Cité des Sciences & de l’Industrie,” the largest science museum in all of Europe. Frugally conscientious, I visited all of the free exhibits the place had to offer, including the aquarium. I also checked out the multimedia library, but since the majority of text was in French, I focused more on browsing than on actual reading. The museum also offered a lot of exhibits (i.e. planetarium, movie theatre, etc.) that appealed to the interests of a much younger demographic. :-)

The next day, our whole class took a trip to Chartres. The locale was peaceful and more open than its Paris counterpart. We all headed toward the famous Chartres Cathedral, which was known to have been the original Notre-Dame. Inside, we saw breathtaking stained glass arrangements and the holy “Sancta Camisa” (the legendary tunic said to have been worn by the Blessed Virgin Mary). We also climbed one of the tall steeple towers all the way to the t…

A weekend resolved

Thankfully, jazz festivals did not consume our entire weekend. Come Saturday morning, our whole class headed over to gardens of the Rodin Museum. We saw many of Auguste Rodin’s (the most preeminent sculptor of his time) works, including the “Burghers of Calais,” “Monument to Victor Hugo,” and “The Three Shades.” My favorite sculpture was the “GATES OF HELL,” which alluded to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. Each of his creations entailed splendor and meaning; touring the museum left us all in awe. =O

After the last jazz act Sunday evening, we all headed toward Professor Brockman’s place to celebrate Pam’s birthday. It was a resounding success; everyone secretly pitched in money to surprise Pam with a cake. Soon after, we went to scenic Montmartre (summit of Paris) in the late hours of the night. We were fortunate enough to attend a live church service in the Sacré-Cœur (translated: Sacred Heart) Basilica. Before we headed back to the Fiap, we explored the nearby alleys that were b…

Jazz Festival: Weekend 3

Once again, we all headed toward Parc Floral to complete our weekend routine of listening to the jazz performances. The first band on stage, “Vincent Courtois,” played with a very avant-garde style. The screaming female vocalist sounded like a beached whale and the trombone player played at intervals too sporadic for my interest. “Le Gros Cube d’Alban Darche” was the next ensemble to perform; they started out strong with fluid technique and swingy folk melodies. Towards the end, they opted to play awful renditions of the “Queen” rock band and sounded no different than regular drunk singers from a late night karaoke bar. Our class left that Saturday afternoon in heavy disgust. >_<
Luckily, the talent showcased in Sunday’s concerts was somewhat better. We first heard the “Emile Parisien Quartet” who began by playing classical excerpts from Fauré. The belly dancing antics combined with the masterful instrumental control of the alto saxophonist was the highlight of the show. Lastly, …

Domaine de Chantilly

Come Wednesday morning, our entire class headed to Chantilly to tour through the area’s famous château (French for “castle”). The peace of the countryside was a great break from the urbanization of the city. We trekked through a grassy plateau (and brushed by ornate stables) to get to the château. We were fortunate enough to have an English tour guide who ran us through four centuries of French history via numerous paintings and intricate rooms that the Musée Condé Collection had to offer. =)
After we had lunch at the nearby restaurant, we perused through local businesses. Pam was kind enough to buy everyone authentic French chocolate from a genuine chocolate shop. We then boarded the train to get back home. Without much thought, we went on a train that took us backwards and further away from our final destination. After we realized our mistake, we re-boarded the train, only to find out that there was “fire” on the corresponding railroad track! We had to make yet another transfer. Due…

Bastille Day 2009

Bastille Day is a national holiday that commemorates the anniversary the uprising of a modern nation. On that morning, we met up with Professor Brockman and his wife Betsy (who just flew into Paris the day before) at Jardin du Luxembourg, a garden famed for its tranquil environment and striking collection of statues. The entrance of the garden took us all by surprise: the Senate Palace was surrounded by a kept collection of botanical vegetation. From the fountain of rented sailboats to the ice cream vendors to the pits of lawn bowling, we explored the massive park from a child’s perspective. The place was so huge that we lost P-Jo for over half an hour (she was originally found at the “point of origin”)! =P
We left Pam, Mike, and Betsy at the French Panthéon (a burial place for national heroes like Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, etc.) to head toward Trocadéro for the celebration of Bastille Day. Aside from the military parades that we briefly saw, the area was closed, so we had to f…

A triumphant march

During a calm Monday afternoon, my friends and I decided to go sight-seeing at Champs-Elysées. We first came across the Obelisk of Luxor, which was situated at the end of Rue Royale. We had to follow this road to get to the Arc de Triomphe. Along the way, the girls ran into and out of expensive shopping boutiques; I was usually left sighing in the background as the girls tried on sunglasses/watches/apparel, patiently tagging along like a makeshift boyfriend. =\
When nearing the infamous arched monument, we walked underneath a lit tunnel to cross through traffic. Upon arrival, we all marched through the Arc de Triomphe—and felt, well… triumphant! Within the arc was a HUGE flag of France that billowed in the breeze. We also saw the Eternal Flame that burned for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was supposed to represent the death of all the bodies that were not found during the world wars. In general, this was probably one of my most favorite outings in Paris, yet! ^_^

Jazz Festival: Weekend 2

The gypsy theme for our second jazz festival weekend at Parc Floral was interlaced in most of the performances. The “Costel Nitescu Quintet” featured a medley of solos and ballads that carried upbeat tempos. However, I found the lead violinist to be too excessive and overdone. Subsequently, a group called “Bojan Z – Expatriots” took the stage and gave jazz a modern twist with the addition of beat boxing and record scratching. The lead vocalist entwined the political struggles of his racial background in his music by gesturing outlandish antics; in one scene, he washed “blood” off of his hands, and wrestled himself to the ground in another. Regardless, both groups displayed excellent syncopation and creativity in their shows. =]
The next day, more friends from Loyola Marymount University accompanied us to the jazz festival. We arrived a little late, and we were all astonished by the sheer increase in amount of people who came that afternoon. The “Bireli Lagrene Gypsy Trio” utilized thei…

Check, please!

On Friday afternoon, the group visited the Latin Quarter of Paris and checked out a Shakespearean bookstore that Christina suggested. The neighborhood had the ambiance of a small village with petite shops, international restaurants, and intimate bars. While we were there, we also went INSIDE the Notre-Dame and walked into a LIVE church service. Though we did not run into “Quasimodo” (yet), we did step on a landmark that signified the EXACT center of Paris. =P
After more walking on the Parisian streets, we had dinner with Tierney at an authentic Mexican restaurant, “Fajitas.” We ate in a private section of the restaurant, hidden below general view via a winding staircase. In my opinion, the food was a bit expensive, but the conversations were great; Tierney shared her awesome travel stories that kept everyone guessing. When everyone was finished, both of the Pamelas (Burovac vs Johnson) had an INTENSE tug-of-war battle for the bill. It turned out that someone underpaid their fair porti…

Artistic legitimacy

On Thursday, we went on an excursion to Musée d’Orsay and admired many artistic displays that the exhibits had to offer. We started on the upper level floors, which emphasized works from the (post)impressionism era. Like the tourists we were, everyone took pictures of paintings from Degas, Pissarro, Rousseau, and Van Gogh. The middle level floors focused on the themes of naturalism and symbolism, which was clearly found in artists like Gaudi and Bernard. Collections of pre-impressionism were proudly displayed on the ground floor, featuring Monet, Renoir, etc. Because the museum was so huge, we were not able to see all of the works of art in one setting, but we hope to return again soon. =)
Later that night, we went shopping at the local Monoprix. We all craved soft-serve ice cream, so we also stopped by the nearest McDonald’s and grabbed cones for just ONE euro! Since everything in Paris was pricy, we were glad to find something on a menu that college students could afford. Plus, the M…

Death of a madman

The majority of Tuesday was spent in Auvers-sur-Oise, a commune located in the northwestern suburbs of Paris. It was there were the brilliant Vincent Van Gogh spent his final few months of his life completing NUMEROUS masterpieces before committing suicide. Our group (sans Pam who opted to take an intensive French course instead) boarded the RER train and toured his final resting spot. Though the area’s museum itself was not open on Tuesday, we ventured throughout the grounds and found some very unique places. We took pictures in front of L’Auberge Ravoux (the house where Van Gogh died), at Château d’Auvers (a large mansion with a pristine landscape view), a corn/wheat field, and even at the cemetery had the ACTUAL grave of Vincent Van Gogh (who was buried next to his brother Theo). It surprisingly rained (briefly for the first time since our stay at Paris), so we also took refuge in the nearby church. =)
After finishing the rest of our snacks at the bank of the Oise River, we headed b…

Jazz Festival: Weekend 1

This past weekend afternoon brought forth an onslaught of jazz performed by the top international musicians. On Saturday afternoon, we breezed through the botanical gardens and gates of Parc Floral de Paris and sat in an open pavilion. The first ensemble to perform was the “Jus De Bocse Quartet” who implemented intermittent screeches and bellows into their jazz rock/fusion motif. The “Vienna Art Orchestra” took the stage next and made the audience swing to their rhythm with upbeat music and syncopation. It was evident in their encores that both performances had their share of intricate solos and unique jazz styles. =]
Eric (Loyola Marymount University) accompanied our group on Sunday as we listened to two new recitals. “Radio String Quartet” played the first half of the show. It was my favorite band that played the entire weekend because of their diverse array of jazz selections, ranging from classical elements to fiery tango to romantic ballads. The final group to perform for the week…

Night at the Seine River

This was actually the first Fourth of July celebration I have seen that did not include any display of fireworks… Luckily, one of France’s major holidays, Bastille Day, takes place on July 14 (according to Wikipedia, Bastille Day is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison, which was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation) and they are expected to have a fireworks display like no other. We started the night by stoppping by Monoprix (America’s Fred Meyer equivalent) to get beverages. The girls all purchased warm alcohol and I just bought myself a cold bottle of Coca Cola. P-Jo did not want to get anything to drink because she had just taken her medication. =P
We then headed to sit on the banks of the romantic Seine River. The stairs smelled of STRONG urine upon descent, but everything cooled down once we got to relax on the edge of the pavement. We all toasted for the Independence of America, and yelled sporadically to incoming boats that hosted to…

First jazz class, ever

Due to confusion/miscommunication, we (the students) received a late email from Brockman saying that we should have met up with him for the first class, an hour ago! After much scrambling, walking, stair climbing, and metro riding, we finally arrived at his place. Because there are so few students in the class, we had an intimate lecture and learned about the early roots of jazz and its respective musicians. Brockman kept the lecture interesting/entertaining by conducting rhythm and SPORADIC stomping sessions. It was all a hoot, especially when we got so loud that his nextdoor neighbor glanced through his window balcony to investigate the clamor. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the jazz excerpts and learning about its African influences. I hope this summer experience augments my appreciate for jazz, and all good music in general. :)
After class, we decided to do some exploring. P-Jo decided to stay behind at the Fiap. We all headed to an awesome gelato shop at Bastille and ate frozen…

Scaling the Eiffel Tower!

My second day in Paris had definitely topped my first! After meeting up with Professor Brockman in the afternoon, we all headed toward the Eiffel Tower for pictures and fun. I was surprised at the sheer amount of vendors who attempted to sell me trinkets of Eiffel Tower trinkets. The line was somewhat long, and Christina was having trouble keeping the bugs at bay; the back of her yellow shirt was full of them! To keep the tourists quenched, a water system was set up to constantly fan/drench the line from the relentless rays of the sun. =O
Once we all got inside the main floor, we took a rising elevator to ascend to the second level. We took many pictures of the breathtaking scenery that Paris had to offer. From the altitude, we were able to see main attraction sites like the Louvre Museum, the Arc de Triomphe, and Norte-Dame! Once we all arrived at the peak of the tower, we took even more pictures of the landscape and learned many interested facts of the tower itself. Because the line …

Sultry sustenance

After I checked into my single room, I went back to the main lobby of the Fiap and met Sean (a recent UW graduate and alumnus of the UW Jazz in Paris Program) and Ann (his girlfriend). Along with Pam, they took Brockman and me to the supposed “best falafel restaurant in the world.” Once we got into the correct district via metro, we found the restaurant and had instant service. We ended up eating “shawarma” (the waiter was kind enough to give me a free sample). The savory cuisine and cold lemonade filled up me up from a day’s worth of flavorless airport food! ^_^
Following dinner, Pam and Brockman and I went back to the Fiap lobby to meet up with all of the other students. P-Jo, Christina, and Sarah all arrived on time. Brockman then took us outside in the HOT weather and introduced us to nearby restaurants, shops, and the VERY EFFICIENT metro system. Due to the intense heat, everyone was sweating NONSTOP! Luckily, Brockman took us to some random bar and paid for our drinks! Thank good…

And so it begins!

After all of my bags were packed, I was dropped off at the Yakima Airport to head for Seattle. Everything went smooth; especially for it being my first flight in over ten years. I then navigated through all of the security checkpoints of the massive Seattle Airport and had a quick breakfast at the Airport’s Burger King Restaurant. Afterwards, I got onboard to head for the Minneapolis Saint Paul Airport. I had a quick nap through this 2-3 hour flight to recharge. Once I checked in at MSP, I had a huge lunch at their airport’s McDonald’s and finally headed for the place en route to the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. This was an overnight flight, so I was furnished with a pillow, blanket, eye shades, earplugs, etc. I had dinner and breakfast during the flight, and the only two movies that were shown were two that I have already watched (Race to Witch Mountain and Seventeen Again). Along this flight, I befriended the vice president of Sports Authority and his daughter who wen…